The French Horn, an “iconic” riverside hotel in Sonning, South Oxfordshire, has been brought to market at a guide price of £12m.
The hotel, which has a 200-year legacy, occupies a spot on the River Thames and has been under the ownership of the Emmanuel family since 1972.
The former coaching inn has evolved into a restaurant with rooms, and over the years has had an “impressive” list of guests, including Princess Margaret and Lady Diana as well as Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne. It has also appeared in literature, several films and TV series, including Midsomer Murders.
The “substantial” 8.6-acre plot comprises a French restaurant with 100 covers, a wine cellar, 21-bedroom hotel and 13 additional properties including several houses, cottages, and staff accommodation, which are “ripe for rejuvenation”.
The Furleigh Cottages, a row of eight 19th Century mill workers cottages, each enjoy river frontage and a private walled garden.
The property features 5.6 acres of adjoining paddocks that have the potential to be used for leisure facilities or luxury lodges, subject to planning. There are also secluded and mature landscaped gardens, while the undeveloped river frontage is “likely to prove the property’s biggest draw, providing would-be investors with the opportunity to capitalise on private mooring, recreation and angling rights”.
The site is being sold on behalf of the Emmanuel family, and has been brought to market by specialist business property adviser, Christie and Co and joint agent, Haslams.
Michael Emmanuel said: “After several wonderful decades of overseeing The French Horn and creating cherished memories for our patrons, it is with a mixture of sadness and excitement that we have made the decision to put this iconic property on the market.
“It’s not easy to say goodbye to a place that has been the heart of our family for so long, but we’re eager to see the next chapter of its storied history unfold. We’re grateful for the support and loyalty of our patrons and look forward to passing the torch to someone who will continue to honour the legacy of this beloved establishment.”
Tim Widdows, associate director – Pubs and Restaurants at Christie and Co, who is handling the sales process, said, “I am thrilled to take this exceptional property to the market, a business I have known and enjoyed for many years. The inclusion of additional properties within the premises, each with its unique potential, truly makes this offering stand out.
“The prospect of converting River and Bridge House into separate properties, the flexibility of Orchard Lodge, and the charming Furleigh Cottages with river frontage all contribute to the remarkable appeal of this investment. The diverse properties offer versatility and add further value to this iconic property. The French Horn is not just a property; it’s an opportunity to shape a legacy in riverside luxury.”
Steve Woodford, executive chairman of Haslams, added: “The French Horn has a history, an ambience and a location to die for and it will suit hospitality entrepreneurs, high-end developers or even someone looking for a very special home. The potential has no bounds. This type of property, and with this amount of river frontage close to London, rarely becomes available – for the right owner this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I have lived in Sonning and nearby for 40 years and we have celebrated big birthdays, anniversaries and even my father’s wake at the French Horn, where 300 people turned up to his favourite restaurant. It is a privilege to manage the sale of this very special place and find the next custodian to build on its rich history.”